Until I was in my early 20’s, the only person I really had to worry about taking care of was myself. Even growing up as a child, I never really had to share anything that belonged to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to sound selfish, but when I moved in with my
boyfriend husband, I had to learn to work as a team instead of a one-woman-wonder, which wasn’t really a bad thing.
My parents had always encouraged me to be as self-sufficient and independent as I could, so I was really proud of everything I did for myself – I put myself through college, paid my own bills, bought my own groceries, etc. It was a blow to my pride to admit that there were some things I couldn’t do on my own anymore, like when I realized I couldn’t afford to pay rent AND my student loans at the same time, let alone buy enough groceries for two people instead of just me (and after living with my husband, I realized that with his appetite, it’s more like buying groceries for a family of four). Coming up with a budget that would work for the both of us was one of the smartest decision we’ve ever made. While I wanted to feel like I was pulling more than my own weight, it just wasn’t feasible on my salary, so we came up with a plan that would work according to what we could each afford. If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, here are some things to think about when creating a joint budget:
What are you working with? You’ll need to figure out how much money you’ll each be contributing to expenses. You should agree upon how much each of you will be setting aside for savings, and what each of you will keep for personal spending (should you choose to do so). Be open about your income and any financial responsibilities you have.
What needs to be paid for, and who is responsible for it? You’ll need to prioritize your combined expenses. What absolutely needs to be paid for every month, and what can you do without? Decide who will make the payments each month, and which account that payment is coming from.
Will you share a spending account? Some couples choose to have a joint account that they each contribute to for shared expenses – things like bills, groceries, gas, etc. You may wish to keep a separate account that you use for personal spending – things like going out with friends or a new pair of shoes. You should make this decision together. We opted to keep our separate accounts but divide up what we would each be responsible for based on our net income. We also agreed that any larger purchases (over about $200 or so) would be discussed together beforehand, and that we were each capable of using our best judgement when it came to unplanned spending (i.e. an unexpected happy hour with a friend after work). Communication is the key!
How will we keep track of our spending? The best way to stick to a budget is to monitor your spending. BudgetSimple is a great tool to use for that! By keeping track of what you’re spending and where your money is going to, you’ll be able to focus on the expenses that really matter and eliminate unnecessary spending, helping you to grow your savings and pay off debt.
Are you operating on a joint budget? What are some things that you and your partner do to stay on track?